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Beef to China surge continues

The surge in Australian beef and veal exports to China continues to grow, with exports for March reaching 12,320 tonnes swt compared with only 452 tonnes swt just a year ago. Meat and Livestock Australia reports the March volume not only smashed the previous high record of 11,866 tonnes swt set in February, but exceeded Australian shipments to Korea, placing China as the third largest single export destination for Australian beef for the past two consecutive months. The total shipment of the first three months of 2013 reached 28,624 tonnes swt. Some 89 per cent of product shipped to China during March was frozen beef, at 10,963 tonnes swt. Chilled beef exports to China during March were 1357 tonnes swt, with the total chilled beef exports for the March quarter of 2013 of 3869 tonnes swt already exceeding the total chilled beef shipments during 2012 of 2042 tonnes swt. Manufacturing beef was traditionally one of the most popular Australian cuts shipped to China. However, the increased exports of a wider range of cuts have led to a decline in the proportion of manufacturing beef out of the overall exports in recent months. Australian manufacturing beef exports during March halved from the previous month, to 499 tonnes swt, accounting for only 4pc of the monthly volumes. Shipments of manufacturing beef for the March quarter of 2013 finished at 1884 tonnes swt – 299pc above the same period last year, but 57pc lower than the December quarter last year. Despite a 5pc fall in brisket exports during March from the past month, at 1997 tonnes swt, demand for brisket remained high over the first quarter of 2013, totalling 4769 tonnes swt – another 3pc rise from the December quarter of 2012. Silverside/outside, thick flank/knuckle and blade exports showed particularly strong growth in recent months. Shipments of silverside/outside during March surged to 1885 tonnes swt from just 8 tonnes in March 2012. Shipments of thick flank/knuckle and blade during March also improved significantly, to 1240 tonnes swt and 1189 tonnes swt, respectively. Carcase exports also expanded in recent months. While 457 tonnes swt of carcases were shipped during 2012, exports during the first quarter of 2013 totalled 1807 tonnes swt, with the record monthly trade during March at 810 tonnes swt.

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